The month of February has opened on a high note as stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) after reports showed that the manufacturing sector accelerated last month while personal incomes and consumer spending rose.

Finally, a big batch of good news to kick off the new month:

  • The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that manufacturing activity grew for the sixth consecutive month in January to its best reading in nearly six years, report Tali Arbel and Christopher S. Rugaber for the Associated Press.
  • Personal incomes rose in December by more than expected. The increase was a modest one, going up 0.4%. But it was the sixth gain in a row, and it outpaced analysts’ expectations of 0.3% growth.
  • Consumers are spending a little more, as well, but this growth was tempered, too. American shoppers are still reluctant to spend too much money as credit remains tight and unemployment is still sky-high. The 0.2% increase fell short of the expected 0.3% increase. SPDR S&P Retail (NYSEArca: XRT) is up nearly 1% this morning.

Exxon Mobil’s (NYSE: XOM) profit fell 23% in the fourth quarter, but revenues increased, reports Jad Mouawad for The New York Times. The losses reflected lower oil prices and depressed oil demand as the economy remains weak. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Energy (NYSEArca: IYE) is up 2.4% this morning; Exxon is 25.3%. [For more stories about oil, go here.]

Gold prices are recovering some of their losses of late by gaining 1% in trading this morning. One analyst suggests that it may be the work of bargain hunters, reports Matt Whittaker for The Wall Street Journal. A weaker U.S. dollar is also lending a little strength to the precious metal. SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) is up 1.5% this morning. [For more stories on gold, go here.]

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.